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Taverna Santi


At least part of the joy in going up the coast is the process of
getting there. We forged a plan: Stop in Healdsburg for some
provisions, head up to Geyserville for a nice lunch, and hit up a
couple favorite wineries en route back to River Road to stock up on
that particular necessity.

And so it was. After quick stops into Downtown Bakery for some sticky buns and a nice galette for our dessert that night and The Cheese Shop
for, well, cheese (and a hunk of Fra’mani soppressata sold in thickish slabs since she does not have a slicer … aroo?), we descended
upon the blink-and-you-miss-it burg of Geyserville for lunch at Taverna Santi. I had taken Santi on recommendation from my favorite Wine Country resource, Fork & Bottle (only to find out after the fact that it’s also a fave of my good friends at Married …with Dinner.)

Geyserville is over 150 years old, and apparently little changed during that time. The "downtown" strip of this diminutive town comprises maybe a dozen structures, all single-storey and looking torn straight out of the pages of an old Western.

Despite Santi’s imminently overlookable exterior, it is surprisingly
vacuous on the inside. The interior is classic Wine Country
trattoria — vintage wine and liqueur posters, yellow sponge-washed
walls and wrought iron and rustic wood furnishings. In fact, such a perfect snapshot of Tuscan-trendy décor from the early part of this decade, it’s almost retro already.

Still, we were greeted warmly despite arriving 45 minutes early for our reservation. As there was only one other table occupied, they didn’t seem to mind.

We kicked things off with a plate of house-cured salumi. The bresaola was well cured, but had an almost dusty taste to it that I didn’t love. The other options on the plate were significantly better though: some slices of a wonderfully peppery salami and a mild, fresh soppressata that crumbled on the tongue. Match that up with some housemade pickles and dry-cured olives, yessir.

I didn’t want to be burstingly full while driving the convoluted roads of Dry Creek Valley, so I opted to combine smaller dishes instead of a full-on entrée. I started with a bowl of sausage-lentil soup, which came piping hot. I really intended only to eat half of it, but I could not hold myself back. The lentils were petite and perfectly al dente, the broth well seasoned with a light burn of pepper and the whole thing topped off with an unctuous drizzle of olive oil and a good mound of freshly grated parmigiano. Delicious.

Next up I had the grilled shrimp salad, three gorgeously grilled shrimp, heads-on, laid atop an inverted ramekin-molded salad of ginormous, meaty white beans, braised escarole, red pepper flake and preserved lemon. Though the shrimp had a slightly off aroma, perhaps from having heads on too long, they still tasted fine, and overall the dish was excellent — playful, balanced, contrasty and fun. I am so stealing this dish.

DPaul had the pork panino (despite our lenten fast of no leavened bread or potatoes … ah well, vacation rules!), which was very good as well. The thinly-sliced pork tasted amazingly porky, with an almost noodle-like texture that snapped between the teeth. I can’t vouch for the bread, cuz I didn’t have any. Hmph!

No dessert for us, just a perfectly respectable espresso to send us on our merry way.

I only wish we had come for dinner instead of lunch. My appetite is definitely whetted, and I can hardly wait to return.

Taverna Santi
21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, CA

One year ago today … it was Pi Day, White Day and Steak and Blowjob Day. Guess what today is then?

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